Final

Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/8

Game 1: Thursday, November 8th
Mavericks120Final
Warriors115
Game 2: Wednesday, January 2nd
Warriors99Final
Mavericks121
Game 3: Sunday, March 30th
Mavericks104Final
Warriors114
Game 4: Wednesday, April 2nd
Warriors86Final
Mavericks111

Warriors 86

(45-30, 20-18 away)

Mavericks 111

(47-28, 31-7 home)

    Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

    8:30 PM ET, April 2, 2008

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    GS 25 25 19 1786
    DAL 29 31 29 22111

    Top Performers

    GS: M. Ellis 27 Pts, 6 Reb, 3 Ast

    Dal: J. Terry 31 Pts, 5 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl

    Nowitzki surprises with return and Mavs rout Warriors

    DALLAS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki sat at his locker, with a bulging ice bag wrapped around his left ankle and a sly smile across on his face.

    The reigning MVP was back in the playoff race for the Dallas Mavericks -- and they got a huge victory in a game that many didn't expect him to play. Nowitzki wasn't even so sure, no matter how much he was ready to get back on the court after missing four games because of a high ankle sprain.

    "I didn't know if I should do it or not," Nowitzki said.

    Mostly Happy Returns

    A host of stars got back on the court on Wednesday after spending time out with injuries. Here's how they fared:

    Player
    Points,
    Result
    Out since
    Gilbert Arenas 17, L vs. MIL Nov. 16, 2007
    Elton Brand 19, W at SEA April 18, 2007
    Pau Gasol 10, W vs. POR March 14, 2008
    Dirk Nowitzki 18, W vs. G.S. March 23, 2008

    But Nowitzki was back, scoring 18 points in his unexpected start Wednesday night, and the Mavericks posted a 111-86 victory over the Golden State Warriors that could have big implications in a tight Western Conference playoff race.

    "There was already a sense of urgency. ... And then seeing Dirk out there, it was very inspiring," said Jason Terry, who matched a season-high with 31 points. "We were very surprised to see him [start]. But once we saw him out there joking and laughing and smiling, I knew he'd be OK."

    Nowitzki had expressed doubts about playing after the morning shootaround, and the final decision wasn't made until he warmed up less than 90 minutes before the game.

    Coach Avery Johnson had indicated earlier in the day that the Mavericks were planning to play without Nowitzki. But that may have been part gamesmanship against Warriors coach Don Nelson, who resigned as the Dallas coach in March 2005 and turned the team over to Johnson, his hand-picked successor.

    "Yeah, yeah, Nellie taught me that," Johnson said.

    Dallas (47-28), seventh in the Western Conference, moved a full game ahead of idle Denver and two games ahead of Golden State (45-30). Only the top eight teams make the playoffs.

    The Warriors have consecutive losses for only the second time since going 0-6 to start the season, when Stephen Jackson was suspended. They were also held under 100 points again after having a 37-game streak of hitting the century mark snapped in a 116-92 loss at San Antonio on Tuesday.

    "We played two lousy games and ran into two hot teams," Nelson said. "That combination is going to get you beat by 20, if you're lucky."

    Nelson called it "the biggest game of the season" for both teams -- there are only seven regular season games left. But Golden State responded with one of its worst performances of the season.

    Jackson had only two points on 1-of-11 shooting, and Al Harrington was 1-of-9 with six points. Monta Ellis led the Warriors with 27 points, while Baron Davis had 20.

    "It's mandatory that we win the rest of them," Jackson said. "We don't want to wait around for other teams to lose."

    Josh Howard added 28 points for the Mavericks, while Kidd had a season-high 17 assists with 11 rebounds and five points.

    The Mavericks had been 11-10 since getting Kidd from New Jersey at the All-Star break. Dallas was 0-10 against teams with winning records with the All-Star point guard before the victory over the Warriors, which came three nights after a 114-104 loss at Golden State.

    Nowitzki, who sprained his ankle and his knee 10 days earlier, moved gingerly when he took shots during warmups. But there were chants of "Dirk! Dirk! Dirk!" just before pregame introductions, then a deafening roar when he was the last starter introduced.

    Nelson embraced Nowitzki and tapped him on the head in front of the scorer's table before tipoff.

    "The big different was Nowitzki playing," Nelson said. "He was quite an inspiration to them."

    While Nowitzki was obviously not at the top of his game (6-of-15 shooting) during his 27 minutes, he twisted and turned moving to the basket several times and didn't appear to have any significant problems with his ankle. He had already said his knee was fine.

    "I wasn't moving great out there. I was catching and shooting, or posting up and letting other guys do the work," he said.

    Nowitzki didn't touch the ball on the Mavericks' first two possessions, but then had a defensive rebound and missed a 13-foot jumper. On the next possession, he moved inside along the baseline, drawing a foul and hitting both free throws for a 4-2 lead.

    Dallas never trailed in the game, going ahead for good on Howard's 15-foot jumper. That was one of three straight baskets on which Kidd had an assist in a span of 90 seconds.

    Kidd's 17 assists were seven more than Golden State's entire team. Kidd had an 11-3 advantage at halftime, when the Mavericks led 60-50.

    "We need to get our spark back," Davis said. "This is a tough lose, a double lose."

    Game notes


    The last time Golden State lost consecutive games was Jan. 2 and 4, at Dallas and against New Orleans. ... Warriors F Mickael Pietrus missed his seventh straight game because of a right groin injury. ... Dallas had a season-high 56 rebounds. Erick Dampier had 11 to match Kidd's total.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    GS
    DAL
    Points 86 111
    FGM-FGA 33-86 (.384) 45-94 (.479)
    3PM-3PA 4-16 (.250) 7-21 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 16-19 (.842) 14-16 (.875)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-21 4-21
    Assists 10 35
    Turnovers 15 12
    Steals 7 10
    Blocks 6 6
    Fast Break Points 16 44
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 14 (0/0) 15 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 27

    Top Performers

    Golden State
    Dallas
    Monta Ellis Ellis
    Points: 27
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Jason Terry Terry
    Points: 31
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0